shared custodyDivorces are rarely easy or free of conflict, and this is particularly true in divorces that involve children. One of the most challenging issues that families negotiating the terms of their divorce face is how best to address shared custody in a contested divorce. The underlying philosophy of the court is that parents need to arrive at a solution that is in the best interests of their child or children, but when tensions are running high and one or both spouses are feeling hurt or angry, there can be a quick turn to vindictiveness and use of the children as weapons to hurt one another or score points against each other. This is a mistake, and it can undermine the health and well-being of your children.

No matter how you feel about your spouse they are your co-parent, and always will be. Here are some tips on how to negotiate for shared custody:

  • Learn the custody laws that are in place in your state. The more you know about your rights and what is expected of you, the less you are likely to be taken advantage of or to have unrealistic expectations.
  • Set aside your emotions when discussing your children. Fighting will work against you making any progress or achieving your own goals.
  • Make a list of what your goals and priorities are in terms of custody. After you’ve written them down, take a close look at whether each of them is meant to achieve something positive for the child that you can explain and defend or whether it is meant to punish or hurt the other partner. By writing down your goals, you can check yourself to see whether you are being fair.
  • Remember that your child’s other parent has just as clear a right to spend time with the child as you do and that your child wants to spend time with both of you.

One of the most helpful tips to keep in mind while negotiating custody is to ask yourself how you would have felt as a child if you had been subjected to the schedule that you are suggesting for your child. Taking your own emotion out of the equation and putting yourself in your child’s place is one of the best ways to ensure that you are doing what is most fair and will ensure that your child has a strong relationship with each of you.

Negotiating custody is one of the hardest aspects of divorce, but when it has been done well it provides positive results for all involved. For assistance with this and other aspects of divorce, contact our office today to set up an appointment.

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